Dogs in Berlin: Introduction

This is my dog, a mighty mutt from Sardinia.

About a 100.000 dogs are officially registered as living in Berlin, the real number is probably twice as high. And it makes sense, Berlin is, all in all, a quite dog-friendly city, especially compared to other cities of its size and influence. Paris is the worst city for dogs I ever experienced, and I wouldn’t even think about taking my dog to London or New York, but having a dog in Berlin is something very enjoyable. Loads of parks and greenery, many pals to play with, and a generally very friendly attitude towards dogs are a joy for every dog owner. I wanted to write a guide about dogs for quite some time now, and this is the first round, summarizing all the rules one has to consider when coming to or living in Berlin with a dog. The next articles will include notes on where to take your dog to have fun, and where to shop for your pup. Oh and let me know your questions and suggestions in the comments!

The Rules

On or off leash
Dogs aren’t allowed to be off leash in the city. Inside of designated dog areas (more on these later), all rules are off and fun is a priority.

The waste
You are obliged to clean up after your dog, and while some dog owners seem to forget this rule, I consider it a duty. Also, other people will probably (and rightfully) publicly shame you, if you don’t. I personally usually offer a waste bag if I see someone ignoring their dog’s poop.
Breaches of these rules can be fined by the Ordnungsamt with 35 Euro or more, they do their regular rounds in many areas, so you shouldn’t ever feel too safe when leaving a smelly pile behind. With the new dog law you’re obliged to carry waste bags always and the Ordnungsamt can check you on that and will fine you if you don’t carry some.

Registration & taxes
If you live with your dog in Berlin, you need to have your dog chipped, and need to register it with the local tax office in order to receive a dog tag and pay your taxes (120 Euro per year for one dog, 180 Euro a year for every other). Your dog needs to carry information about your address as well as the dog tag. You also need to have a liability insurance especially for your dog.

People’s attitude
Most Berliners really like dogs, and if you have an especially cute one, expect it to be met with great excitement from kids and adults alike. While usually not that talkative, people here turn into friendly chatters when encountering a sweet pup, trying to get the dog to like them. However, there are people who are scared of dogs, so make sure your dog is in your control at all times.
As you will quickly learn, Berlin dogs are quite well behaved and relaxed, most of them have been to dog school and are very attached to their owners. One thing that’s totally common here is dogs waiting for their owners in front of stores, off leash!

Apartments
Many landlords allow to have a dog living with you in your apartment, however, you will need their written permission, so make sure you ask before renting a place.

Public Transport
It’s allowed to bring dogs on a leash into all public transports, small dogs ride for free if they come in a bag, everything bigger than a terrier needs to get a ticket at the reduced fair.

Restaurants
Most restaurants I know have no problem with you bringing a dog, many cafés also have bowls with water or even treats ready for them! And if they don’t, it’s totally common to ask for water. However, many Arabic, Persian and/or Turkish places don’t allow dogs inside, so make sure you ask before you enter or choose a seat outside.

No-Go-Areas
There are only a few places you can’t bring your dog: food stores, supermarkets, children’s playgrounds, museums, cinemas, public swimming pools, and designated swimming areas at lakes don’t wanna see your pup. Many Spätis also don’t allow them, some public buildings as well as bakeries and butchers, except the special butchers for dogs (more on that later). Just look for stickers at the entrance, and if not sure, ask.
There’s also a new law making it possible for district administrations to keep dogs out of certain areas. Watch out for signs.

So called dangerous breeds
Unfortunately, there are certain special rules for a range of breeds that are publicly known as fighting dogs: Pit-Bulls, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier, Mastiffs and some more have to be on leash at all times and wear a muzzle, the latter even inside of dog parks. They must be officially registered and owners have to prove their knowledge and that the dog isn’t aggressive to the authorities. Also, many of the breeds on the list are not allowed to be imported into Germany.

Comments

also leave a comment
  1. Nicole Deger-Beauman on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks very much for your article, I’m a dog owner in Berlin and it’s nice to hear that this article will be one of many regarding our little friends in the city!

    I just wanted to clarify one thing, and I hope you would be able to have the answer, I was under the impression that dogs were not allowed at certain lakes as of May this year (Schlactensee included) however I haven’t been able to find any concrete information online regarding this. For this reason I’ve been taking my dog to other lakes such as Liepnitzsee and Grunau as alternatives. While both beautiful lakes it would be nice to know that I could take my pup to other lakes if friends decide to spend the day there. Do you have any information regarding this?

    Thanks again for the post and looking forward to many more to come.

    P.s I’m a big fan of nico the mutt!

    :)

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Oooh, that’s so complicated… So, in general, dogs can go to lakes, but at many places would have to be on leash, and are not officially allowed in water. They tried to ban dogs in general from Schlachtensee this year, however, this was overturned by a court since under the current law, dogs can’t be generally banned from an area as big as this, unless there’s a reason like a playground or such. This is why in the new Berlin dog law, districts are actually granted the right to ban dogs from certain areas, if they’re providing sufficient dog parks in other areas.

      To avoid all this, go to lakes in designated dog parks / areas, like Grunewaldsee, where dogs can do whatever they want.

      Also, this is the official law, that doesn’t mean you can’t go to other lakes, especially when other visitors seem to be open to having dogs there, e.g. Langer See or Tonsee. I try to get the vibe of a lake when I’m there, usually, there’re at least some other dogs around and people in general don’t really mind. I don’t visit small lakes with only view places to sit at, I want my pup to have space :)

      PS, me too!!

  2. Pedro Gonçalves on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    I’m living in Berlin. I’m wondering to adopt a puppy but actually I don´t have enough information where can I find one.
    I don´t want to buy one, I’d like to adopt a puppy. Do you know where can I find this information?

    Greetings,
    Pedro

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Sure, super happy to help and even happier you want to adopt one instead of buying :) So – you can visit the Berlin shelter where 300 dogs live – however, I shied away from having to choose from hundreds of cute pups and adopted a dog from Sardinia through a volunteer animal rescue agency: http://www.streunerherzen.de. I can recommend them very much, they do a great job at matching dogs and people (I left the choice to them), and in supporting you through the whole process. Friends of mine have used the same agency and have also been very happy.

  3. Konrad on

    Reply

    Hi,
    I moved to Berlin and my girlfriend with our cute, nice and friendly american stafford will join me soon. I see this breed all the time in Berlin but … it is “forbidden”. Can you maybe also clarify what I need to do, to bring this dog to Berlin?

    I don’t want her to have all the time a muzzle, because I am absolutely sure she’s fine and she would never hurt anyone. How it is possible that some people have this dog without it? Is it allowed in some circumstances?

    thank you so much for this article

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Konrad,

      those breeds are not “forbidden”, they’re subjected to several restrictions and conditions. Is it an American Staffordshire Terrier? Then you’re obliged to officially register with your local Bezirksamt, meaning you will have to present yourself and the dog to the administration, as well as prove your knowledge, liability insurance, proof that your dog is not aggressive, as well as a certificate of good conduct. Then you will receive a dog tag that the dog must wear. The law includes the obligation to wear a muzzle at all times, but you can ask for a permit to not wear it and to not be on the leash at all times.

      Best is, to ask your local Bezirksamt for more information, I have no personal experience how to handle so called “dangerous breeds”.

      hope this helped!
      mary

  4. Mike on

    Reply

    Hello! Thanks for all the information. I was just wondering if you had any recommendations for a good pet insurance provider for dogs in Germany? We’ve been looking at AGILA.

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I actually only googled mine and decided rather spontaneously. Since I never had any problems, I can’t report real experiences…

  5. anna on

    Reply

    Hi! i was following the link above, for the rescue agency that you recommended…..but it only goes onto some kind of portal where there are also links to websites selling puppies and so on…..could it be http://www.streunerherzen.com that you are actually referring to ? 
    I am looking to adopt a dog in need and want to be sure that I go through a reliable agency…. many thanks !!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Oh yes, you’re right! They must’ve lost the url or something. So http://www.streunerherzen.com/ is the right link and I can absolutely recommend them!

  6. Jacklyn Giron on

    Reply

    Hi Mary – Just came across your wonderful blog, right in time before our move to Berlin! I have somewhat of an odd question: do you know if the tax on dog ownership applies to travelers who are only staying for a period shorter than 3 months?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Jacklyn,

      easy answer – it only applies to dogs registered in Berlin. All dogs need to be registered somewhere, but whether that’s in Berlin or somewhere else, that doesn’t matter. But your dog needs to be chipped, and you need a EU pet passport or a health certificate (if you’re not from a EU country), and rabies vaccination.

  7. Roni on

    Reply

    Hi! Thanks for the info in the article. About the registration and taxes.. do I need to register my dog every time I move to a new neighbourhood like my anmeldung? I couldn’t find a concrete answer online..

    Thanks!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      hmm… interesting but tough question.. I actually don’t know..

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.